US customs crackdown on e-commerce yet to impact freighter capacity

Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/ Shutterstock

A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) crackdown on e-commerce shipments into the US over recent weeks has yet to impact freighter flight numbers into North America.

Late last week, CBP announced it had suspended “multiple customs brokers” from its Entry Type 86 Test programme that covers the duty-free import of shipments worth less than $800 into the US.

There have also been reports of greater scrutiny of Type 86 shipments causing hold-ups at borders and cancelled flights.

However, in a LinkedIn post strategy consulting project manager Tim van Leeuwen from air cargo consultant Rotate said its data had yet to show the moves by CBP having any impact on freighter flight numbers from North East Asia to North America.

Rotate’s figures show that there are currently around 100 freighter flights per day between the two regions, although not all of these are thought to be e-commerce flights.

“Despite mentions of cancelled and suspended services, our capacity data shows no obvious decrease in transpacific freighter flights and neither in China-originating flights,” said van Leeuwen.

Source: Rotate

Meanwhile, in its weekly market round up, TAC Index said its sources had also not reported a major impact so far.

“Air cargo news was dominated by a reported crackdown on compliance with rules on e-commerce into the US, with reports suggesting disruption for customs brokers – though sources told TAC the reports were overblown, with most big brokerage houses already having effective compliance in place,” it said.

The CBP crackdown on Type 86, or de minimis, shipments began earlier this year with the introduction of new rules that required shipment data to be filed prior or on arrival of the imported cargo.

Previously filing could take place up to 15 days after the arrival of the shipment.

Since then CBP has been increasing its focus on the shipment type as part of efforts to tackle the import of illicit substances like fentanyl and other narcotics, counterfeits and other intellectual property rights violations, and goods made with forced labour.

In a statement issued on Friday, CBP acting commissioner Troy Miller said: “While balancing our economic security and trade facilitation mission with our law enforcement responsibilities, CBP is taking action to ensure compliance and minimise the exploitation of the small package, or de minimis, environment.

“While the majority of brokers, carriers, and supply chain businesses that participate in CBP’s Entry Type 86 Test are compliant with applicable laws, we are enhancing our enforcement efforts to ensure that all participants are held accountable when they are not.

“To date, CBP has suspended multiple customs brokers from participating in the Entry Type 86 Test after determining that their entries posed an unacceptable compliance risk.”

He added: “CBP’s evaluation and suspension of non-compliant Entry Type 86 Test participants is part of a multi-layered enforcement approach to prevent abuse of the de minimis process, protect the integrity of the supply chain, and ensure that businesses comply with applicable US legal requirements.

“When businesses fail to comply with US law, it can have far-reaching effects on the integrity of our trade system and the people reliant on the goods that flow through our ports every day.”

Any broker that has been suspended will be considered for reinstatement if it demonstrates to CBP that it has developed and implemented a remedial action plan.

E-commerce to become a third of air cargo volumes


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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]